What Are You Reading?
Michelle Wildgen of the Madison Writers’ Studio begins each class, “What are you reading?” My latest three were recommendations from a historical mysteries book club, a comment on my Pandemic blog post, and a Facebook friend respectively.
• In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen. A novel of spies, class, romance, and mystery in World War II England. I hadn’t previously heard of the “land girls” sent to the countryside for wartime farm labor, or of Nazi proposals to restore the former King Edward VIII to the British throne.
• The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson. A riveting history of London’s 1854 cholera epidemic, on every scale from microbe to metropolis, and the pioneering epidemiologist who figured out how it spread. The book grabbed me from page one with the night scavengers who recycled the bones, rags, and excrement of Dickensian London.
• The World in Flames: A Black Boyhood in a White Supremacist Doomsday Cult by Jerald Walker. Powerful memoir of a Chicago kid in the 1970s, raised to expect the end of the world before he reaches his teens. His parents are blind, his God wrathful, his classmates puzzled. To his secret shame, Jerry wishes he could just be a normal boy.
What are you reading?
2/25/2019 06:05:27 pm
I have been reading for 6 to seven hours per week when I have dialysis. The last two books I read were "The Military Art of Th People's War" by Vo Nygen Giap. Then "Giap, Victor in Vietnam" by Peter McDonald. I am now reading a book listed in the bibliography of the first book. It is by Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana. I get a lot of books by looking in bibliographies of books I read.
James, that's some serious reading! I like your approach of getting leads from the bibliographies in other books. It would take you deeper and deeper into a topic, kind of like designing you own course syllabus. At the same time, it leads to into new strings, e.g. moving from Vo Nygen Giap to Kwame Nkrumah, which might in turn lead you to other books about resistance to colonialism in West Africa. What a cool way to delve into a topic.
Patricia Van Dyke
2/26/2019 06:44:23 am
Right now I am preparing for a Road Scholar offering about Foreign Policy. The books that the Madison Public Library sent me first include "Why Nations Fail" and "Inside a US Embassy". I am awaiting a book by Kissinger about diplomacy as well as others. This reading is pushing me outside my usual realm of interest and is proving quite interesting. This will be our first Road Scholar trip (in September) and I think I am going to like some of their future offerings also.
Wow, Pattie, some more serious reading. Glad the books are interesting. Whoever put together the program should be a good source for books that are both informative and readable. It can be exciting to be pushed outside one's usual realm of interest, especially (for me at least) if it feels like a choice, i.e. I'm ready for that push.
Rebecca, after you finish this book, will I be reading more about it on your blog? The bits I'm finding about it online remind me how much history is written by the winners and then everyone accepts their version for centuries. And how much insight and digging it takes to undo the winners' story and set the record straight.
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I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.